By Richard E. Cristol
An association management company (AMC), while known for professional management of the mission and operations of its client associations, can also serve as an expert and reliable resource for specialized areas of association management. Many association leaders – whether part of a freestanding association or one managed by an AMC – are looking to AMCs as a resource for communicating new initiatives, pursuing increased membership, establishing higher industry or professional standards, addressing legislation or enhancing the public image of a profession or industry.
AMCs offering specialized services can provide public relations, government relations, publishing, and interactive services and much more as a turnkey operation, and do so within a company intimately familiar with the inner workings of the association structure. It’s this double benefit that gives AMCs the edge to make the integration seamless.
Bringing the tactics under one AMC roof benefits the association with consistent messaging, delivered more quickly in a variety of ways – all timed appropriately to a myriad of target audiences. To illustrate the power of a turnkey effort, here is an example of how Kellen Company worked through an action plan with association leaders to provide the “spokes” in the wheel for an association industry initiative tasked to educate and inform legislative, public and member audiences about new legislation pending in Congress.
- Creating and distributing letters to individual Congressional members and the appropriate House and Senate Committee members addressing the issue at hand
- Preparing association leaders prior to Congressional hearings with coaching and document development and preparation
- Coordinating government affairs professionals in one-on-one communication with key members of Congress and their staffs
- Generating media exposure through press releases and personal contact targeted to government affairs journalists and issue-oriented reporters
- Posting editorial responses through media via letters to the editor and online comments on media websites
- Producing and distributing multimedia highlighting association leaders and others speaking on the topic
- Preparing and communicating the need for grass roots efforts on the part of members, encouraging them to write their local members of Congress
- Producing online versions of press releases, video conferences from the association president and audio clips from committee members to show passion and depth
- Distributing news from the association to interested parties through RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds, greatly speeding up the dissemination of information via the Internet
- Conducting webinars (seminars held via the Internet and phone) to educate association members and the public
- Publishing blogs as a way to encourage member participation, hold regular subcommittee discussions and quickly disseminate news from any part of the world, wherever the issue is taking place
- Posting member-only pages with complete “how-to” manuals for the campaign, including how to work more effectively with Congress
- Publishing e-newsletters and bulletins as an active method of communication, keeping members updated with any movement in a piece of legislation
- Producing conference materials to help train members on addressing the new legislation
- Publishing scholarly journals that include articles addressing the new legislation, written in a way targeted to member needs
While these services could be purchased separately (with association staff managing many separate supplier relationships), many AMCs are able to provide a single source as a firm experienced in the association environment, where collaboration, diversity and synchronization are crucial.
Cristol is president of Kellen Company, an Association Management Company with offices and representation in the United States, Europe, China, The Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Cristol authored this article for republishing in an October 2008 issue of Association Trends.